Baby Showers

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From Getty Images
From Getty Images

As a spin-off from yesterday’s post, I thought I’d write about baby showers. First of all, why are there no baby showers for expectant fathers? Everyone knows that baby showers are for women. I’ve heard of some wedding showers being integrated, but not baby showers. (Although I’m sure there have been somewhere.) I suppose that’s partly so that the women can talk freely about things like childbirth and how soon you can have sex after delivery.

But there’s probably another reason why baby showers are for the mothers-to-be: they are seen as “naturals” when it comes to  parenting. They are the ones who supposedly care the most about all the baby paraphernalia, who have to nag their husbands to put the crib together (as if they can’t manage to do it themselves), and who dream all their lives of the day they hold their new babies in their arms.They are assigned the role of care-giver and nurturer before they even have a chance to decide whether or not they want kids. (It’s always assumed that women are nurses because they like taking care of other human beings and men are doctors because they can’t be bothered with that stuff.)

It could be argued that a baby shower helps to prepare the expectant mother for her new role. I’d buy that except I take issue with the message it sends. The average baby shower is based on the belief that all is going to be hunky-dory between mother and child. It isn’t designed to address issues like postpartum depression or problems with bonding. That’s why I like the idea of the Bad Mother Baby Shower. Every expectant mother is anxious about how well she’ll adjust to her new status. Why not address those anxieties head on? The Bad Mother Baby Shower is designed to lower the mother-to-be’s self-expectations. It’s not to give her permission to be a bad mother. It gives her permission to be human.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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